Who's speaking at the 2017 graduations of Duke, N.C. State, N.C. Central and UNC? A CNN anchor and a former astronaut are on the list.
Above, Duke commencement speaker David Rubenstein (right) looks out the window of the newly renovated Washington Monument in 2014. Rubenstein helped fund the renovation. Photo by Alex Wong for Getty Images.
We’re just a few days away from graduation at the Triangle’s universities.
A good speaker obviously isn’t the most important part of graduating — the whole getting the college degree thing is a little bit more exciting — but a bad graduation speaker can make for a less-than-exciting commencement day. (My commencement speaker was the world’s foremost researcher of … ants. He also talked about the end of the world. But he’s considered one of the world’s best graduation speakers, which shocked me.)
So who’s speaking at the Triangle schools this year? Here’s who you can expect to hear.
Duke: David Rubenstein
Rubenstein is a 1970 Duke alum, the chairman of Duke’s board of trustees and a big-time philanthropist. In 2015, he gave Duke $50 million for a new building to serve as the school’s dance and film headquarters. Duke’s rare book library is also named after him, and he’s donated millions of dollars to restore national monuments like the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument. He also had a private conversation with President-elect Donald Trump in late December about … well, we don’t know what.
UNC: Brooke Baldwin
Baldwin, an anchor on CNN, has covered elections, natural disasters and gun violence. She’s had a little practice as a graduation speaker: She gave the departmental graduation speech to UNC journalism school students in 2014. And speaking at UNC’s commencement gives Baldwin — an ’01 UNC alum — a chance to check an item off her bucket list.
N.C. State: Nancy McFarlane
Raleigh’s second female mayor will speak to the graduating Wolfpack. She’s on her third term as mayor and might be best known for her work in the city’s purchase of the Dorothea Dix property, transforming it from the grounds of an old psychiatric hospital into a gorgeous park.
N.C. Central: Joan Higginbotham
Higginbotham is a former astronaut. Mic drop. She’s one of only three African-American women to go into space, completing four space missions overall. Mic drop AGAIN. (She’s also on N.C. Central’s Board of Trustees.) We are pumped to hear her speech.1 comment